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In lieu of actual content… September 7, 2011

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging.
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The possible demise of Livejournal and what it means to me… January 7, 2009

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging, progress.
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LiveJournal announced yesterday that they have cut a significant proportion (20%) of their US workforce (marketingvox story) and there has been much hand-wringing of the “where do we go from here?” sort amongst my LiveJournal friends.

For my personal blogging… I like LJ for the security features it provides, and some of what I post there probably would just never get written in any “public” forum if I didn’t have those features.  But for my personal blogging, I can live without it.  I can connect with friends on Facebook, I can blog here and at my hobby blog and at my kid’s blog and I can turn what has been my media consumption blog / personal website into the personal blog.  No big deal for me.  (I have archived my five years of LJ postings, though… I would hate to lose all of that.)

The dissertation, on the other hand…  65% of my dissertation participants use LiveJournal.  If LJ stops existing, I will have to figure out what to do.  Either I go with the three months of observational data that I have already (instead of six) or I will follow those folks to any new services they migrate to.  Either way, it will be something to talk to those LJ users about when the time comes for interviews!  Yesterday I was in a total panic about it; today I’m a bit more zen.  I have the data, so all will not be lost even if the service disappears at the end of the week like some of the doom and gloom folks were predicting yesterday.

Are blogs obsolete? December 5, 2008

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging.
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This morning a link to this Wired article came across my Facebook home page (via David).  An excerpt:

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

My initial reaction was, “Um, no.”  I suppose, though, that it depends on what you consider to be the goal of blogging.  Is it about making your writing visible?  Is it about connecting with other people – whether they are known to you outside of blogging/the Internet or not?  Is it about making money?  It seems that Paul Boutin is excluding the last of these options… or is he?  He laments that if you look at the top 100 blogs according to Technorati, “you’ll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can’t keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.”  And yet… at least one of those top 100 sitesdooce.com – is written by one person (with the occasional guest post), and is a money-making venture.

Four years ago, Alex suggested that within a year we would no longer be talking in terms of blogs – that “blog” was an umbrella term and was not sufficiently descriptive to be meaningful.  (Sorry, man, I remember these things.)  He was right about the meaninglessness of the term, of course, and that sentiment is some of what the Wired article is getting at.  If you define “blog” as a journal or a space for personal writing,   I see the same thing when I look at my survey data; some bloggers define the term based on software, some based on the presence or absence of RSS feeds, or the presence or absence of comments.  (Interestingly, this would for the most part eliminate dooce, as Heather rarely enables comments.)  A handful of my respondents distinguish between LiveJournals and blogs, claiming that the former are not blogs but journals.  So where does that leave us?  If anything, the number of types of documents that fall under the heading of “blog” has grown, rather than shrunk, in the last several years.  And yet, we are still using the umbrella term.  If anything, we prepend a modifier – my dissertation is a study of “personal blogs”; there are also a lot of “tech blog” and “political blogs” and “whatever-you-want-to-call-them blogs”.

Does this mean that blogs are obsolete, as Boutin would have us believe?  That if you have something to say, you’re better off saying it via Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr?  I, as well as many of the commenters at Wired, disagree.  As they rightly point out, you can’t say much in the 140 characters that Twitter allows.  Flickr and Facebook are much richer environments but even they are simply not the same as the long-form writing that blogging allows.  Facebook may allow more than 140 characters but it still favors short bursts of communication – a status update, a (super)poke, a wall post.  Yes, a person can use notes and posted items in much the same way that one uses a blog, but that is decidedly not the culture of Facebook.  On Flickr, everything is premised around the image.  Sure, you can write as long a description of the photo as you want, and include HTML.  There are plenty of people who use their Flickr photostreams in the way that a person could use a personal blog – a notable example is Eric Snowdeal, who posts identical entries on both Flickr and one section of his blog.  I have to come back to the fundamental difference, though, in that on Flickr the primary subject is the image.  On a blog, on the other hand, the written word is front and center.  Sure, there may be multimedia support of the written word.  In some posts, the multimedia elements may even take front stage.  But at some point, somewhere, a blog is about communicating and that communication is still best accomplished via language.

Session: Bloggers & Blogging October 18, 2007

Posted by Sarah in AoIR, bloggers&blogging.
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This session featured two papers about blogging and two that were more about Internet research more generally. Presenters were Mary-Helen Ward on PhD blogging in Australia, Maria Bakardjieva and Georgia Gaden on blogs as a technology of the self, Denise Rall on how people become Internet researchers and Ulla Bunz on what AoIR conference paper titles tell us about Internet research.


Public and Private in the Blogosphere: Live! June 29, 2007

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging, progress.
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No, it’s not the latest in traveling entertainment extravaganzas.  It’s much, MUCH more exciting than that.

It’s my survey of bloggers.  That’s right, the survey is officially live as of ten minutes or so ago.  If you’re a “personal blogger”, please fill it out, and pass it on to your friends (copy & paste HTML below).

<a href=”http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=YWpihoh7RtF_2fL0QyOU8IjQ_3d_3d”>Bloggers, stand up and be counted! Take the “Public and Private in the Blogosphere” Survey!</a>

Experience or share? May 29, 2007

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging, reflections.
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Ariel wonders

Has blogging made it so that for me, the joy isn’t in having experiences, but in sharing them? If so, that’s sort of fucked up.

I’m not sure that it is weird to enjoy sharing experiences… I mean, there is something to be said for solitary enjoyment, but it’s also lovely to recount things, to fix them in memory, to impart some of the enjoyment of the experience to others in the re-telling.

The dangers of clipping March 16, 2007

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging, internet, reflections.

I’ve been using ClipMarks (my clips here) to excerpt & link webpages on my various blogs for a little while.  This past week, I ran up against some unintended effects of this practice of excerpting.  I had posted a clip of a UK Guardian piece about having kids vs. remaining child free to my LiveJournal.  In selecting the parts of the piece to clip, I was very careful to be even-handed in the excerpts (I made sure to include parts where the author is addressing the merits/drawback of both choices).  And yet, many of my readers reacted very strongly (and negatively) based just on the excerpts.  (I ultimately clarified my motivations for posting the excerpt and explained why I had found it interesting here.)

What caused the strong reactions?  (Besides the fact that it is a very polarizing issue upon which I have friends who are strongly on both sides.)  Was it a lack of familiarity with the technology?  Or did I run up against an interesting by-product of these excerpting-and-reposting technologies – namely, the ability to (in this case, unwittingly) change the meaning of another person’s writing Clearly my readers’ perceptions of the article were shaped by the portions that I chose to include in my repost.

What are the dangers of these technologies?  What are the advantages?  How are they changing the meaning of authorship?

The real reason why no one reads your (my) blog. March 1, 2007

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging.
clipped from blindcopy.blogspot.com

The real reason why no one reads your (my) blog.

Ever wonder why the traffic to your blog is so terrible? I too am concerned about increasing my readership, so I decided to gather some information to help me decipher why my traffic sucks.
What I found wasn’t encouraging.
Consider the following facts:
There are approximately 6.5 billion people in the world.
Only 16%of the world’s population (1 billion people) have internet access.
16% of the world’s population is illiterate, which leaves only 840 million readers.
Of that, only 20% of the world’s population speaks English, leaving 168 million readers.
Only 30% of internet users read blogs, leaving 50 million readers.
50 million people, sounds like a lot right? Wrong!
Technorati is currently tracking around 50 million blogs.
That’s pretty simple math, 50 million blogs for 50 million readers.
Therefore, with an average of only 1 reader per blog, then who’s reading your blog?
That’s right, just you. Depressing, ain’t it?

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Blogger interviews September 26, 2006

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging, links.
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I learned from one of the many blogs that I read that BBC Radio 4 did a series of interviews with bloggers. Thus far I’m only listening to Julie’s interview (which is interesting to me both as an academic and as a blogging parent) but I’ll definitely be listening to the others.

Stupid technological progress… August 29, 2006

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging.
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In my proposal (and probably in my eventual data-analysis), I’m grouping blogging systems by amount of privacy/security they offer. So you really have a spectrum* from LJ (most security features) to Blogger (fewest features). This is all well and good.

Except that then Blogger had to go and release their new beta. Which not only messes up my spectrum, but also will make my survey just a bit more complicated, because I’ll have to ask respondents if they’re using OldBlogger or BloggerBeta. Phooey. Oh well, I’ll survive. ;^)

*Damn… now I need to go make a graphic of that way to express it.